To the Editor:

We learn it at an early age, the ability to stand on our own two feet. But, through in a rope and a couple of strategically placed holds and all of a sudden, it’s not so easy.

As Iowa’s cold temperatures approach, I find that more often than not my motivation to maintain a continuous workout schedule tends to disappear along with the heat. So, when a friend of mine came to me with the crazy idea that two amateurs such as ourselves would actually stand a chance against the experienced climbers of the local wall climbing league, I thought, "what do I have to lose?"

But what I had envisioned as a world of high competitive spirit, in reality was quite the opposite. Climbing was not about whether or not you beat the person standing next to you. It was about whether or not you beat your own score. Before I knew it, I had expanded my circle of friends. And, with that came encouragement, fascinating anecdotes involving climbing real rocks, and most importantly…tips.

So, here they are. Three must know tips that will help even the most inexperienced wall climber succeed. Stretch, stretch, then stretch some more. I cannot emphasize this enough. The muscles used in everyday life are not necessarily the ones used in the sport of wall climbing. And, trust me, when the next day comes and you find yourself struggling to complete even the simplest of tasks, such as gripping a mechanical pencil, you will find yourself wishing you had spent a little more time loosening up those muscles.

Trust your legs. Our natural instinct when climbing is to reach with our arms and pull ourselves up when in reality it takes far less effort to use your legs to push yourself up. While releasing your hands from the wall seems like a good way to crash and burn, your legs are much sturdier than you give them credit, and in the end it will prove much more effective to push rather than pull.

Bigger is not always better. I know what you’re thinking. Why choose a small hold when a big one is right in front of your face? The answer is simple. Bigger does not always mean better. Large holds can be deceivingly placed making it difficult to continue onward once you have utilized them. They can look as though they would be the perfect choice only to turn out incredibly smooth and round, preventing you from reaching your final goal. While walking into a room full of virtual strangers can prove to be quite intimidating, nothing compares to the first time you feel your fingers and feet slowly slip from that wall. But, whoever stated that the benefits of wall climbing far exceed the risks, knew what they were talking about. So, the next time you are racking your brain for new and exciting ways to lose some of those extra pounds, don’t hesitate to stop by your local wall climbing gym, strap on a harness, grab a rope, and climb on.

T.K. West,

Dallas Center